With about 49 days to the 2023 general elections, a coalition of human rights organisations on Friday expressed fears about the reports of missing Permanent Voter Card and difficulties in locating them.
They also raised concerns over the voter education carried out by the Independent National Electoral Commission which, they said, was inadequate.
While advising the commission to ensure free and fair elections, the organisations said voter education was non-existent in some other places, leaving the voters vulnerable to manipulation by some unscrupulous politicians who tend to take advantage of the situation.
The CSOs also warned the judiciary against the reckless granting of court orders, injunctions and judgments.
The organisations expressed the views during a press conference by the Focal Person of the Coalition of Nigerian Youth Groups, Maximilian Tashilani; Convener of Coalition of Civil Society For Good Governance, Okpanachi Jacob, and chairman of Arewa Transformational Leaders, Yusuf Ibrahim.
Tashilani said it had become imperative to pause and “take stock of where we are coming from, and where we intend to go as a nation.”
According to him, the 2023 general election was more than a deciding moment for the country, adding that all well-meaning Nigerians must come together to uphold the unity, sanctity and integrity of the nation by ensuring free, fair and credible elections.
He said, “From all indications, President Muhammadu Buhari is not only desirous of bequeathing the legacy of a free and fair election, he is also poised to ensure that all institutions responsible for delivering credible elections are truly independent.
“However, as a body, we will not shy away from our responsibility of drawing the nation’s attention to some acts that are capable of derailing the efforts made by Nigerians to ensure the elections are credible and hitch-free.
Tashilani said, “Adequate voter education is the solution for delivering free, fair and credible elections. Moreover, such education equips voters with knowing their rights and responsibilities. However, our investigation has shown that such education embarked upon by INEC is inadequate.
“They are even non-existent in some other places, leaving the voters vulnerable and at the mercy of unscrupulous politicians who tend to take advantage of the situation.
“The difficulties voters undergo to collect their PVCS is unbearable. Aside the difficulties of locating ones PVC, they are also reports of missing PVCs.
“Despite the difficulties INEC faces in discharging their responsibilities, we urge them to intensify more efforts to ensure they deliver to the people a free and fair election by February, 2023.”
He told the judiciary to know that it would be in the eyes of the storm as preparation for the election gathers steam.
“As we approach the 2023 general election, the Judiciary will definitely be in the eyes of the storm. As Nigerians are enthusiastic about the coming election which is less than 50 days, a lot of Nigerians have expressed fears on the manipulation of the Judiciary and the Judicial system to makes nonsense of the gains already made to sanitize the polity,
“Examples abound where judges give contrary court orders, injunctions and judgments that do not have precedence in judicial jurisprudence. We have seen where courts makes nonsense of peoples mandate by declaring and installing people who were never voted for in an election, citing spurious reasons.
“We have also seen courts grant bail after conviction, even when the convict has not yet filled for an appeal. We call on all government institutions and agencies to live up to their expectations and perform their constitutional roles as required by law without fear or favour,” Tashilani added.